Ask a Singaporean what their plans are for Chinese New Year, and you’re likely to receive one of two answers: visiting relatives, or grabbing the chance of a long weekend to skip town on an overseas holiday.
For those who are staying home but don’t have a long list of distant aunties to visit, you do have entertainment options other than Netflix over the Chinese New Year period.
Your favourite kopitiam might be closed over the festive period, but there are numerous events and parties in Singapore, many free to attend.
- 10 must-go events and parties in Singapore during CNY
- River Hongbao 2019
- Chingay 2019
- Chinatown Chinese New Year Countdown Party
- Lion dance on poles at Gardens By The Bay
- Spring Street at Gardens By The Bay
- Huayi 2019
- Istana Open House on Chinese New Year Second Day 2019
- SCCC Lunar New Year Carnival & Concert
- Fortune Street at RWS 2019
- National Museum of Singapore
10 must-go events and parties in Singapore during CNY
|CNY party or event||Ticket prices|
|River Hongbao 2019||Free|
|Chingay 2019||$28.50 to $50|
|Chinatown Chinese New Year Countdown Party||Free|
|Lion dance on poles at Gardens By The Bay||Free|
|Spring Street at Gardens By The Bay||Free|
|Huayi 2019||$30 to $208|
|Istana Open House on Chinese New Year Second Day 2019||Free ($2 for foreigners)|
|SCCC CNY Family Fun 2019||Free|
|Fortune Street at RWS 2019||$38|
|National Museum of Singapore||Free|
River Hongbao 2019
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If we’re going to be honest, Singapore’s most famous CNY event is the Hong Bao Toto draw.
But here, we’re talking about the River Hongbao 2019 event, an annual waterfront event that begins just before Chinese New Year and lasts an entire week.
This year’s River Hongbao celebration takes place on 3 to 10 Feb at The Float @ Marina Bay.
Highlights include nightly fireworks displays, a carnival with games and snacks, and a lantern display featuring Chinese mythological figures. There are also performances by dance troupes and local celebrities.
Most of the River Hongbao events and displays are free, although you will obviously have to pay for your own games and food at the carnival.
Date & time: 3 to 10 Feb 2019
Address: The Float @ Marina Bay, 20 Raffles Avenue Singapore 039805
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Every Singaporean has heard of the Chingay Parade, but not that many have actually attended one, or even know what it’s for.
Originally a birthday celebration for certain Chinese deities, it has morphed into a multicultural parade in Singapore.
This year’s Chingay Parade takes place on 15 and 16 Feb, and is probably the closest thing we have to Carnival or Mardi Gras in Singapore.
Expect to see spectacular floats of all shapes and sizes flanked by dancers and musicians, together with the usual lasers and fireworks. Tickets cost $28.50 to $50.
Alternatively, you can purchase tickets at all SingPost outlets, The Star Performing Arts Centre box office, the concierge desk at Scotts Square or the Singapore indoor Stadium box office. You can also reserve tickets online by dialing 3158 8588.
Date & time: 15 to 16 Feb 2019, 8pm
Address: F1 Pit Building, 1 Republic Boulevard Singapore 038975
Chinatown Chinese New Year Countdown Party
As touristy as it is, Chinatown is worth a visit during the Chinese New Year season as shops start selling CNY goodies and the entire area becomes ultra festive with electric lanterns lining the streets.
Chinatown’s CNY programme officially lasts from 20 Jan to 6 Mar this year, with the official light-up and opening ceremony on 20 Jan.
The Chinatown Chinese New Year Countdown Party officially takes place on 4 Feb from 9:30pm to 12:30am. If you don’t have a reunion dinner to go to, you’ll be able to enjoy live performances and a show hosted by MediaCorp artistes.
There will also be fireworks and, more importantly, real firecrackers. In fact, this is pretty much the only event in the year at which real firecrackers can be legally set off in Singapore.
Date & time: 4 Feb 2019, 9:30pm to 12:30am
Address: New Bridge Road and Eu Tong Sen Street
Lion dance on poles at Gardens By The Bay
You know it’s Chinese New Year when you hear the drums and cymbals of lion dance troupes everywhere you turn.
At Gardens by the Bay, catch not just traditional lion dance, but also lion dance on poles, which is much more exciting and has the dancers balancing on poles towering overhead.
While there’s a whole timetable stuffed with programmes at Gardens by the Bay this Chinese New Year, the lion dance on poles is going to be one of the biggest eye openers. It takes place during the Chinese New Year weekend at 7pm at the Supertree Grove, and will be followed immediately afterwards by the traditional lion dance.
Date & time: 9 to 10 Feb 2019, 7pm
Address: Supertree Grove, Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive Singapore 018953
Spring Street at Gardens by the Bay
As mentioned earlier, Gardens by the Bay has a whole list of programmes in store for visitors this Chinese New Year, one of them being Spring Street, Chinese New Year bazaar.
You’ll be able to buy all manner of Chinese-inspired souvenirs, crafts and artisanal handmade accessories, so unleash your inner shopaholic all in the name of tradition.
Date & time: 2 to 10 Feb 2019
Address: Flower Dome and The Canopy, Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive Singapore 018953
Huayi is Singapore’s annual Chinese Festival of Arts and takes place at the Esplanade from 15 to 24 Feb.
Don’t worry, this isn’t some thinly-veiled extension of the government-run Speak Mandarin campaign. If you love theatre and music, you’ll find some interesting performances, whether you speak fluent Mandarin or are just interested in the language.
Highlights of Huayi 2019 include a reinterpretation of Hamlet, a Western-Chinese fusion opera, and concerts by Khalil Fong, Taiwanese indie folk band Wonfu and local duo The Freshman.
It’s too late to take advantage of the early bird specials, which ended late last year, but some of the performances cost just $30 or $38 to attend. Book your tickets at SISTIC outlets or directly at the Explanade Box Office.
Date & time: 15 to 24 Feb 2019
Venue: Esplanade, 1 Esplanade Drive Singapore 038981
Istana Open House on Chinese New Year Second Day 2019
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The official presidential residence in Singapore, otherwise known as the Istana, is open to the public only a few days a year. In 2019, the second day of Chinese New Year has been designated an Istana Open House day.
Think of it like visiting your old friend the President on Chinese New Year (minus the ang pow).
You can expect some Chinese New Year-oriented performances on the grounds of the Istana as well as festive decorations.
Istana Open House Days are free for Singaporeans and PRs, and $2 for foreigners.
Date & time: 6 Feb 2019, 8:30am to 6pm
Address: 35 Orchard Road Singapore 238823
SCCC CNY Family Fun 2019
In case you’re wondering, SCCC stands for Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, not some new kind of tax.
As one would expect from such an organisation, they have lots of Chinese New Year activities planned, which mysteriously take place almost a month before the actual Chinese New Year.
Events include an upcycled craft making workshop organised by Terra SG, a lion dance crash course and an outdoor game titled “Lost: The Mystery Case of Cai Shen Ye”. There’s also an ocarina painting and playing workshop that’s meant for parents and kids.
The activities are free to enjoy but you do have to pre-register for some of them. Do note that some events are conducted entirely in Mandarin.
Date & time: 12 Jan to 13 Jan 2019, 10am to 8pm
Address: 1 Straits Boulevard Singapore 018906
Fortune Street at RWS 2019
Now, it’s safe to say that for many Singaporeans, Resorts World Sentosa is where fortunes have been lost rather than made.
Be that as it may, RWS Fortune Street, which runs for 13-days, is all about celebrating the new year, all while asking yourself if you should give in to temptation and enter the casino.
There will be fortune tellers from 11 schools of divination including Thai astrology, ba zi, feng shui, palmistry, face reading, tarot and more.
Entry to Fortune Street is $38 and includes a complimentary fortune reading of 10 minutes at a booth of your choice and a RWS Invites membership. Existing RWS Invites members or annual/season passholders can get in for $28.
You will need to reserve a slot in advance here if you wish to have a reading. Any additional reading after your complimentary reading will cost you $15.
Check out RWS’s website, as they are running a few promotions for the Fortune Street event, including 1-for-1 entry at $28 per person. If you are a MasterCard holder, you can gain entry to the event for $33.
They also have a buy-2-get-1-free offer on readings, although we’re not sure if getting that much celestial advice is a good idea. Turned off by the prices? Here are some free money predictions based on your zodiac for the Year of the Pig 2019.
Date & time: 5 Feb 2019 to 17 Feb 2019, 2pm to 12 midnight on Fri to Sun and 5pm to 12 midnight from Mon to Thu
Address: Festive Walk, Level 1, Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway Singapore 098269
National Museum of Singapore
The National Museum of Singapore usually hosts a public lion dance performance on one of the weekends after Chinese New Year. Last year, they also ran a special free event on Chinese New Year customs and traditions.
They have yet to announce their plans for this year’s Chinese New Year, so keep your eyes peeled. And even if you miss the festivities, you can still visit the museum for free if you’re a Singapore citizen or PR.
Date & time: TBA
Address: 93 Stamford Road Singapore 178897
How will you be spending Chinese New Year 2019? Tell us in the comments!